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10 Puppets that Made it Big on Television


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Charlie McCarthy
Headshot of American ventriloquist Edgar Bergen with his dummy Charlie McCarthy.
Headshot of American ventriloquist Edgar Bergen with his dummy Charlie McCarthy.
Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Charlie McCarthy will forever be remembered as the best-known dummy on radio. As a teenager in the late 1910s, ventriloquist Edgar Bergen purchased the wooden dummy, and they became partners until Bergen's death in 1978. Following a successful appearance on singer Rudy Vallee's radio program in 1936, Edgar and Charlie were given their own show, which remained on the air until 1956. No one listening could see that Charlie was dressed in a top hat, cape, and monocle, nor could they see that Bergen's lips often moved when Charlie spoke. Fans didn't seem to mind, even when the pair appeared on television and in movies. Their success was a result of the hilarious and somewhat risqué (for the time) conversations that Charlie had with stars like actress Mae West and comedian W. C. Fields. In 1938, Bergen won an honorary Oscar for his creation of Charlie. The award was a wooden statuette.